Children’s Snoring Common, But Can Be a Problem for Some

If you have a child who snores during the night, it could be more than just something for a sibling to poke fun at the next morning. 

A child snores when the air that passes through the back of the mouth is blocked, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). 

As the airway opens and closes, it causes tissues in the throat to vibrate, which creates the snoring noise. At least 10 percent of children snore most nights, according to the NSF.

Though snoring can be common in children, snoring that is loud, regular, and becomes a nightly pattern can be a sign of a health problem.

Ongoing loud snoring could mean your child has a respiratory infection, a stuffy nose, allergies, or even sleep apnea, according to the NSF. 

Since 2002, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that all children be screened for snoring. The screening is designed to determine if the child has regular snoring or obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS).

With OSAS, the snoring also includes gasps or breathing pauses, which means the airway is narrowed or obstructed, according to the NSF. This means the child is not getting enough air. 

Obesity, allergies, asthma, gastroenterological reflux disorder (GERD), abnormalities with the make-up of the face or jaw, and neurological conditions, all can cause sleep apnea in children, according to the NSF.

Most often, young children’s sleep apnea is caused by swollen tonsils that block the airway and make it hard to breathe, according to the NSF.

When sleep apnea is not treated, the NSF states that during the daytime it can cause children to:

  • Be aggressive
  • Be cranky
  • Be difficult to wake up
  • Be sleepy during the day
  • Breathe through the mouth often
  • Fall asleep during the day
  • Have behavioral problems
  • Have headaches
  • Speak in a nasal voice

Parents who think their child might have sleep apnea should talk to the child’s pediatrician, who can refer you to a sleep specialist. During a scheduled sleep study, your child’s sleep, brain waves, body movement, heartbeat, breathing, waking, and noises will be monitored, according to the NSF.

The sleep specialist will use the results of the study to determine whether your child has primary snoring, sleep apnea or another issue. They will also recommend treatment options, according to the NSF.

For more information about snoring in children, talk with your child’s pediatrician or family practice physician. Or, make an appointment with a physician at Premier ENT Associates to have your child examined by a board certified ear, nose and throat specialist.